One day last week, I took Liam outside to play, and amidst his endless exploring of our expansive backyard, I took the opportunity to prune our knockout rosebushes, given to us by our realtor the day we closed on our house almost two years. I'll confess I really know nothing about gardening, let alone how to tend to temperamental roses, but I noticed a few clusters of leaves sprouting among the dead branches, so I guessed that I should cut away the dead blooms from last year to make room for this year's new growth.
And then, there it came. In the process of going lopper-happy while dodging prickly thorns that tear at my skin, a revelation sprouted up in my heart, much like the tiny leaf clusters peaking out in front of me. Make room. Those two humble little words boasted an overwhelming truth. This is the season to prune the gray, lifeless weight that does nothing but choke the life out of the new things God is doing.
That limited phrase, small in stature, has monumental applications for me in this season of my life. There's a process at work, so subtle I didn't even realize it was happening at first, that is stirring a desire in me to de-clutter my home, my schedule, my relationships, my beliefs...and my soul. It's a process of blowing away the dust from the corners of my mind in gut-wrenching honesty and glorious renewal. A process of simplifying my life, stripping away the fluff and flounce to access the eternal fixtures.
I've noticed some sort of holy discontent creeping up in my heart lately, an unrest signifying that I'm just not at home anymore. It's caused me to be quite edgy as I've struggled to make sense of it. A few weeks ago, as I traveled the two-hour trek to Auburn to serve there on our church's worship team, I used that time of solace to pray and seek the Lord. It was a rare treat to have a car ride that wasn't spent pointing out every red car or yellow bus we passed by or singing silly songs to entertain my boys. And it was in that moment of quiet contemplation that the Sunday School truths I've been fed my whole life worked their way from my head down to the core of heart.
I was created for Him. I wasn't created to grow up, go to college, start a career, get married, buy a house, have two kids—possibly a dog, too—and ritualistically fill my time and my stomach with worldly delights that have no eternal significance. (Don't get me wrong; I love my family fiercely, and I am overjoyed that God brought them into my life. They are certainly part and parcel to His purpose for me.) But I wasn't created for church on Sunday, a quick little devotional every morning, and a string of temporal activities in between. I was created FOR HIM.
In His desire for companionship and intimacy, the Lord created us. In His sovereignty and omniscience, He created us. In His infinite grace and love, He fashioned and formed us and saw that we were good. Just to love Him back. To listen to His purpose for our lives and then rejoice at the opportunity to fulfill it. To worship Him in everything, rule and reign with Him as royalty, to take delight in Him and be in awe. I was in cardiac arrest of the most sacred kind. I longed to abandon everything and run away with Him for eternity.
But...I'm still here. Here, sitting at my computer while my baby naps and my toddler flips through a magazine. (It's Southern Living, and he's drooling over the strawberry layer cake on the front cover. So am I, and somewhere in my mind I'm thumbing through my pantry, taking inventory of the ingredients I have to make said cake.) Life is going on, only it doesn't feel like my life anymore. It feels strange, like I'm stuck in a dream—albeit a happy dream—but I desperately want to wake up and get on with the real life I was created for. There's that impatience lurking, the unrest that just wants God to get on with it already and whisk me away to help orphans in Africa or share the Gospel in the Amazon.
So where does that leave me? Now that this revelation has taken siege of my soul, what do I do now?
Make room. I can't stop making turkey sandwiches for toddler lunches and changing dirty diapers. There is laundry to be done, groceries to be fetched, little hearts that look to me for guidance. But what do I do with this life which I feel is so foreign now? How do I answer this longing in my heart that cries out for a different world, to be one with the One who really captivates me?
The answer may be to simply de-clutter. Get rid of the excess: the nagging issues that plague my relationships and sabotage true intimacy, that send my emotions in a tailspin and rob my heart of peace. The mounds of material items that sit, unused and unappreciated in our home and cause distractions with spiritual implications. Prune back the items in my schedule that fill my time but don't fuel my purpose. Refuse to answer the call of chaos and drama and just...simplify everything.
I need to make room for the new. Let go of the former things to create margins for new growth. And then, sitting in the expanse of those margins, I'll be ready to respond. To what, I'm still not sure. It could be that I am called to hunker down where I am but serving with more efficiency and passion, but nonetheless, I will wait with bated breath. And perhaps a piece of strawberry cake in hand.